IMOs Marine Environment Protection Committee from 1 to 5 of October, 2012

Discussions at the IMO's Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 64) this week include the following items of particular interest on ballast water management.

As noted previously, INTERTANKO, along with several co-sponsors, submitted a paper on ballast water management for consideration at this meeting of the MEPC. In its paper, INTERTANKO and the co-sponsors outline the four challenges affecting ratification and effective implementation of the BWM Convention as:

1. need for revision of the Guidelines for approval of ballast water management systems (G8) to improve transparency and ensure appropriate robustness of ballast water management systems (BWMS);

2. availability of BWMS and sufficient facilities to install BWMS;

3. survey and certification requirements for ships constructed prior to entry into force of the BWM Convention;

4. sampling and analysis procedures for port state control purposes.

    Regarding the problems with the type approval process, MEPC agreed not to open up the type approval guidelines (G8) for revision. However, there was agreement that the issues raised in the INTERTANKO paper needed addressing. As such, an MEPC Resolution would be revised to provide greater transparency and expand on the information that would be supplied with the type approval documentation - specifically this would include more detail on the actual limitations of the BWMS. Furthermore, the ballast water circular providing guidelines to Administrations on the approval process would be amended to include the issues raised in the INTERTANKO submission.

    There was agreement with INTERTANKO's concerns related to the availability of facilities to install BWMS, with agreement to develop an Assembly Resolution aimed at smoothing the implementation once the BWM Convention enters into force.

    A Circular will be issued to bring the survey and certification challenges identified by the class societies to the attention of flag state and port state authorities to ensure that all are aware of the agreed solution, and that ship operators who comply with this solution are not improperly penalised.

    Regarding to INTERTANKO's final point, MEPC has instructed the BLG (Bulk Liquids and Gases) and FSI (Flag State Implementation) Sub-committees that, when finalising the sampling and analysis guidelines for port state control, these should not be any more stringent than the type approval process.

    During the consideration of the type approval guidelines and the challenges raised, the incidents relating to BWMS that had already been installed but failed to operate correctly were discussed. As a result of this discussion INTERTANKO and its industry partners have been invited to provide case studies relating to BWMS that have been installed but failed to operate. INTERTANKO will work through its Environmental Committee and ISTEC to gather relevant data to submit to the IMO on these cases.

    Source : INTERTANKO